Churches that do more than just welcome LGBTQ+

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people have every reason in the world to distrust churches. Besides centuries of church-fomented oppression and persecution, the loudest church voices in the news today are hateful, bigoted, and violent toward LGBTQ+ folk. Even the voices that speak of compassion still label some of us, our neighbors, and friends as disordered and sinful when we seek to be the fullest expressions of ourselves and seek the love we all desire.

There are several churches in the Chestnut Hill community that not only welcome, but affirm and celebrate our queer, transgender and gender-nonconforming kin just as you are, made in the divine image, just as God created you.

It is especially crucial for our churches to bear this witness during a time when LGBTQ+ people are constantly barraged with hateful speech and threats. Transgender people, especially transgender women of color, are murdered at an alarming rate in our city. The Trump administration has now dismantled nearly every protection possible for transgender citizens, disregarding their humanity and painting them as a threat to the very safety of society, and excluding them from almost every aspect of public life, including employment, housing, health care, education, prisons and the military. Meanwhile, LGBTQ+ youth die by suicide at an alarming rate because of the rejection experienced by families, schools, neighborhoods, or faith communities.

Houses of worship can be crucial to changing this narrative. When young people see their clergy reflecting and embracing LGBTQ+ identities in every aspect of congregational life, see queer clergy in the pulpit and at the altar, and see LGBTQ+ people baptized, confirmed, and married in our churches and faith communities, it can not only make a difference to their sense of sacred worth, it can save their life. That is what church is for at its best.

Please know that you are welcomed at our churches. We strive to create safe and brave spaces. If you find that we are not, we want to know so we can continue to evolve. We cherish our traditions and we are always willing to learn as God keeps teaching us the full extent of what love means.

The Rev. Linda Noonan
Chestnut Hill United Church

The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel
Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Episcopal

The Rev. Jay Mitchell
Christ Ascension Lutheran Church


Time to commit to renewable energy

Last June, I attended my first 100% Renewable Energy Lobby day hosted by PennEnvironment. It was a profoundly inspiring experience to see different types of people congregate to fight for a common goal. With this year’s lobby day coming up on June 19, it is imperative that we stand together to build collective support around the clean energy future that Pennsylvanians both want and need.

To actively work toward this goal, a group of bipartisan legislators have introduced a proposal to set Pennsylvania on the right track by transitioning to 100% clean energy by 2050. This bill is HB 1425 in the state House and SB 630 in the state Senate. Major companies, like Google, and other states have already committed to become 100% renewable. It is time for Pennsylvania to get on board.

I would like to thank my legislators, Representative James Roebuck and Senator Anthony Williams, for their continued support on this bill. It is critical that we take active steps now to minimize the effects of climate change on our communities. 100% renewable energy is 100% possible and necessary. I encourage other officials to sponsor this legislation and community members to attend this year’s lobby day!

Rekha Dhillon-Richardson
PennEnvironment Intern
University City


Support the Reclaim Act

Let’s clean up our abandoned mines; Support the Reclaim Act.

Have you ever driven by a mountain where the top of it was bare and exposed? Have you ever seen streams that have turned a different color? These are only a few ways coal mining can harm our environment.

The single largest source of contamination for our state’s rivers and streams is actually old mining pollution. About 5,500 miles of streams are continually polluted by coal mining in the state.

About one-third of the nation’s abandoned mine land problems are found right here in Pennsylvania. And it will cost billions of dollars to clean these mines up and protect the public from harmful materials.

Recently, a bipartisan group of legislatures led by Rep. Matt Cartwright from Scranton and Rep. Glenn Thompson from State College have introduced legislation to put forth $300 million for the cleanup of these blighted sites.

This bill would help clean up the polluted rivers, fill in abandoned mines and make the surrounding environment clean. I love being outdoors and having to go by these polluted streams, rivers and barren mountain tops is devastating to see. We must take action on this issue and support this bill to take us in the right direction. I encourage other Pennsylvania legislators to follow suit and cosponsor this bill and thank Representatives Cartwright and Thompson for introducing this bill.

Justin Cucchi
Villanova student